Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Crawford, H. mss., 1895-1978, consist primarily of the papers and memorabilia of businessman Hanford Crawford, 1854- 1930, of St. Louis, Missouri.

Crawford was born in Ossining, New York, Feb. 12, 1854, the third son of Morris D'Camp and Charlotte (Holmes) Crawford. He left school at age 14 to obtain business experience and joined the New York haberdasher firm of Fisk, Clark, and Flagg. He left the firm in 1870 to return to school and in 1871 entered the freshman class of the College of the City of New York. Following graduation in 1875 Crawford took a teaching position at Grammar School no. 35 in order to earn money for study in Europe. He sailed for England in July 1877, and spent the next three years studying at the universities of Leipsig, Berlin, Geneva, and Paris, as well as travelling throughout Europe. Crawford returned to New York in 1880 to begin a business career. He joined the firm of James McCreery & Company in 1885 and became superintendant of their large Broadway department store a year later. In November 1886 he married Mary Gertrude Smith, 1859- . The couple had one child, Ruth.

In 1899 Crawford decided to accept an offer of part ownership and management of Scruggs, Vandervoort and Barney Dry Goods Company in St. Louis. He became active in all phases of St. Louis business and civic affairs and in 1902 was chosen as a director of the forthcoming Louisiana Purchase Exposition, as well as chairman of the committee to entertain foreign exhibitors. Meanwhile his company prospered and by 1906 Crawford was head of one of the largest commercial corporations west of the Mississippi. He had become a board member of the St. Louis Symphony Society shortly after moving to that city, and in 1907 was elected president of the Society. He held that office until 1914, and then served as vice-president until 1920.

Because of poor health and a weakened heart, Crawford retired from business in 1910 and spent the remaining years of his life in travel and Methodist Church activities. He died January 24, 1930 in Los Angeles, California.

The collection contains three basic groups of material: 1) Hanford Crawford correspondence of memorabilia; 2) memorials to Crawford, planned or donated by his brother Frank Lindsay Crawford, 1856-1950, and his daughter Ruth (Crawford) Mitchell, 1890-1984; and 3) Crawford family histories. Included in the correspondence files are more than seventy letters from Hanford to his older brother Morris, for the years 1924-1929. Other correspondents include Lewis Sayer Burchard, Charles Herrick Compton, Frank Lindsay Crawford, Morris Barker Crawford, James Edwin Crowther, Wesley H. Hager, Harris Grafton Hale, David Dallas Jones, William McKinlay, Ruth (Crawford) Mitchell, Charles Nagel, Frank Mason North, Jacob Van Vechten Olcott, Harold James Sheridan, Ralph Washington Sockman, and William Burnet Tuthill.

Hanford Crawford writings and memorabilia include diaries for the three years he studied in Europe and for the six months of 1911 that he and his wife traveled through Europe, the Near East, Scandanavia, Russia, Manchuria, and Japan; autobiographical notes, "begun in July 16, 1922"; articles and speeches on Methodist unification; college medals, course books, and certificates, as well as CCNY "class of 75" reunion memorabilia; Methodist Church and Methodism material; and photographs, primarily from travels, but including some family portraits, and two albums of photos from the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, 1904.

The Hanford Crawford memorials include notes toward a biography and a typed draft of the biography by younger brother Frank Lindsay Crawford; a reminiscence, "Whenever I think of Father," by William Hung; plans for and photographs of the Hanford Crawford Memorial Bookmobile of the St. Louis Public Library (1940); and plans, blueprints, and photographs of the Hanford Crawford Memorial Chapel of Grace Church Methodist in St. Louis (1955).

The Crawford family histories include a printed Crawford genealogy, 1913; Scissors, "an account of the early life of Sarah Merritt Crawford..."; transcripts of oral history interviews with Mary Merritt Crawford, 1962-64, and Lucy S. Crawford, 1962. A small group of note cards with etchings by Gilbert H. Crawford, 1974-1980, complete this section.

There is a box and a folder inventory in the Vertical File.

Collection size: 591 items

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.